34 HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION of higher education to those specially fitted for it, the postpone- ment of the scientific and philosophical trainings to an age of comparative maturity, and the more perfect organization of the whole course of education. But the permanent value of the scheme does not depend on any or all of its details so much as on the principles which Plato propounds in the exposition of it* It is the masterly comprehension of what education means both for the individual and for the State, shown throughout the whole discussion, that mates the Republic, as Rousseau rightly said, " the finest treatise on education ever written/* For Plato, education in its individual aspect is an evolution of the soul under the stimulus of environment. In the first years of life the soul is immersed in sensation and passion by its conjunc- tion with the body. The reason, which is the essential character- istic of man, is as yet undeveloped ; the child lives in the shadow world of mere appearances (or " opinion"), knowing things superficially, and acting on ignorant impulse. But even at this stage the highest and best things in life are not altogether beyond his reach. The old-world fables and myths he hears from his nurse, and the poetry and music he learns from his teachers at a later time, begin the work of education by introducing him to the great human interests through a beauty and goodness that appeal to his imagination. It is this that gives its unique value to the training in literature and music which goes on through childhood and youth: " Because rhythm and harmony find their way into the secret places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, bearing grace in their movements, and making graceful the soul of him who is rightly educated; and also because lie who has received this true education of the inner being will most shrewdly perceive omissions or faults in art or nature, and with a true taste, while he praises and rejoices over and receives into his soul the good, he will justly blame and hate the bad, now in the days of his youth, even before he is able to know the reason of the thing; and when Reason comes he will recognise and salute her as a friend with whom his education has long made him familiar.*'* The work begun by " music " is carried further in adolescence by the sciences. The mathematical studies, Plato points out, develop the soul in two ways. In the first place, they provoke reflection and bring out all the contradictions that lie hid in * iii, 401-402, Jawett's Translation.